Enjoy the great taste of cherries all year!

Fast Facts About Sweet Cherries

  • The total U.S. sweet cherry crop, including fresh and processed, averages about 370 million pounds and each year. About 175 million pounds of sweet cherries are processed each year and are packed as frozen or canned sweet cherries or as maraschino or glacé cherries.
  • Sweet cherries trees begin to produce fruit about five years after being planted in the orchards. Full fruit-bearing capacity is reached in 10 to 15 years. A fully mature sweet cherry tree is capable of producing more than 100 pounds of fruit in a season.
  • Harvesting occurs about two months after the trees have blossomed, which can be anytime between May and July in the West and usually during July in the Midwest.
  • The cherries used to produce maraschino cherries are grown primarily in Oregon, Washington and Michigan.
  • Most varieties of sweet cherries can be used to produce maraschino cherries, including Bings, Lamberts, Vans, Rainiers, Golds, Royal Annes, Napoleons and Yellow Gold. However, the Napoleons and the Royal Annes are most often used for maraschino processing.
  • The maraschino cherry dates back several centuries to the coastal regions of Yugoslavia and northern Italy where a liqueur was manufactured from a local cherry called the “Marasca”.
  • Maraschino cherries and glacé fruits were first imported to the United States in the 1890’s as a delicacy to be used in the country’s finest restaurants and hotels. In 1896 manufacturers began experimenting, using a domestic sweet cherry call the Royal Anne. Less liqueur was used in processing, and almond oil was substituted for the liqueur. Finally, the liqueur was eliminated altogether. By 1920, the American maraschino cherry was so popular that it had replaced the foreign variety in the United States. The modern-day maraschino cherry is characterized by its bright, uniform color and fruity cherry flavor with a hint of almond.
  • Most people familiar with red and green maraschinos but they can be produced in custom colors and flavors. Red maraschino cherries are tinted with the common food coloring Red No. 40, and the green maraschino with Yellow No. 5 and Blue No. 1.
  • There are many uses for maraschino cherries. As a garnish they add eye appeal to beverages, desserts, ice cream, salads and other dishes. As an ingredient their bright color and flavor enhance the taste of many products, improving attractiveness and profitability.
  • Glacé cherries are near candy consistency due to an extra two weeks of processing. They are not only a perfect addition to the traditional fruitcake, but are ideal for cake decorations and as an ingredient in cookies, breads and other baked specialties.